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During a severe famine Isaac decides to migrate to Egypt God discourages him about that

KJV Genesis 26 : 1 - 2

And there was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2 And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of.

Years later during the time of Jacob similar conditions arise yet God actually encourages him to go to Egypt

KJV Genesis 46 : 3 - 4

And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

This paradox is slightly confusing on one hand God discourages the father to migrate to Egypt yet encourages the son to go there

Why did God reject Isaac's move to Egypt?

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  • We are not told so we do not know. Perhaps disaster awaited him because of his father's indiscretion, or some other adverse outcome. But we do not know.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 23:10
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    I edited the text of the question because the narrative does not say, or even imply, that Isaac asked God for permission to go to Egypt. It simply states that God told him not to go there.
    – enegue
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 8:51

1 Answer 1

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Map of Abraham's journeys: Bible Study of Nicolás

It can reasonably be supposed from the narrative that after having arrived at Gerar, Isaac then changed his mind about staying, and so determined to go to Egypt.

There was no famine in Gerar, given that Isaac went there from where he dwelt, by the well at Lahai-Roi (Genesis 25), to escape the famine. God as much as confirms this in the next verse:

3Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you;...
Genesis 26:3 (NKJ)

God would hardly recommend Gerar as a place for Isaac to stay and prosper if it, too, was suffering famine.

So, to answer the OP's question: God told Isaac not to go to Egypt, because there was no rational reason for him to do so.

The narrative concerning Isaac continues a few verses on:

7And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, "She is my sister"; for he was afraid to say, "She is my wife," because he thought, "lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold."
Genesis 26:7 (NKJ)

So, in regard to what might have changed Isaac's mind about remaining in Gerar, thus prompting God's instruction not to go to Egypt, I suggest it was his personal irrational fear concerning his own life -- the same fear that gripped his father, Abraham, in an earlier encounter of his (Genesis 20).

Isaac was afraid to stay in Gerar, which moved him to tell a bald-faced lie about his wife. God knew Isaac was afraid, which is why God gave him assurances concerning prosperity in the land. So Isaac resolved to stay in Gerar. Neverthelessr, Isaac was still compelled to lie about his wife.

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